Spotlight on a Superfruit: Avocado

I haven’t talked much about my classes this semester, which is a bit unusual since I’ve written several posts in the past in regards to my classes and assignments.  Currently, I’m taking Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals.  So what exactly is a functional food?  Well, there are several definitions, but the most widely accepted and comprehensive one is this:

A functional food is similar in appearance to conventional foods, is consumed as a part of a normal diet and has demonstrated physiological benefits and/or reduces the risk of chronic diseases beyond basic nutritional function.  – Health Canada

This is a great website, which contains an easy-to-read table listing all the different functional components in various foods and their health benefits, such as protection against cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegeneration, etc.

So in this course, I’ve been learning about the sources and mechanisms of action of dietary bioactive compounds in these functional foods, nutraceuticals, and dietary supplements as well as the efficacy, safety, and regulatory issues in regards to their commercialization.

functional-foods

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My fav cereal!

If you’ve noticed, functional foods (whole foods as well as modified foods – fortified, enriched, or enhanced) are really hot right now in the food industry.  The demand for these foods are high as consumers are becoming more concerned with maintaining good health and reducing risk of disease.  I’m sure you’ve all heard the slogan, “antioxidants will protect me” (the power of advertising..).  Upon hearing the word, antioxidant, we immediately associate it as being good for us.  Several antioxidant-rich “superfruits” have emerged and continue to be discovered.  These include pomegranate, aςai berry, mangosteen, noni, goji berry, and avocado.  For this post, the spotlight is on AVOCADO.  Yes, it contains many essential nutrients such as vitamin K, fiber, folate, vitamin E, etc., but it also contains high amounts of phytosterols (which help keep inflammation under control and lower cholesterol) and lutein (while there’s no clear evidence yet, it has been linked to combating age-related eye disease and preventing prostate cancer).

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hmm..I don’t know why onion’s on there..this was taken from my class slides. I’ll have to bring this to my professor’s attention.

Here are some new-to-me facts.

Untitled2So why don’t more Americans consume these functional foods on a daily basis?  Some of the top barriers that have been detected include price, taste, availability/convenience, and uncertainty of how to prepare them.  I personally believe avocados overcome all those barriers!  At my grocery store, they are 3 for a $1 this week.  Jackpot!!  I made sure to stock up ;).

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Yay! I’m getting quite good at picking unbruised ones 😉

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I immediately made an avocado omelette as soon as I got home from the store.  Wasted no time 😉

Avocados are extremely versatile, can easily be added to all kinds of dishes, and most importantly, taste amazing!  So the bottom line?  Let’s eat more avocados!

If you’re looking for some ideas, here are some of my past recipes to get you started ;).

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With the leftover sauce…

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Chicken with Tomatillo and Avocado Sauce

IMG_0189-2Avocado, Kale, Quinoa Salad

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Slow-Cooked Beef, Hatch Chile,  Avocado Panini

IMG_3196-001Black Bean Soup with Hatch Chile

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Slow Cooker Spicy Tex-Mex Fajitas

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Red Quinoa Pancake

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Wheatberry Hummus Spread

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Mexican Chicken and Quinoa Casserole (you can top with avocados)

Question:

Do you eat functional foods regularly?  If so, which ones?

I always try to eat as many fresh fruits and veggies as I can that are in season – right now lots of oranges.  In terms of prepackaged foods, I love me some Quaker Oatmeal Squares.  They make for an excellent snack ;).  I always purchase calcium-fortified dairy products (being an Asian, I worry about my fragile bones).  And of course, kimchi…

What are your favorite ways to enjoy avocado?

I have tons.  But I must say, guacamole is my ultimate weakness…esp when sriracha is involved 😉

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21 Responses to Spotlight on a Superfruit: Avocado

  1. Those fajitas look phenomenal!!!

    I absolutely love to mash up some avocado with cut up grilled chicken and brown rice. It’s super simple and rather bland, but a warm-mushy-comfort food!

  2. Cinnamon says:

    i could (and sometimes do) eat avocados every day! If I don’t put them IN something, I just cut it up and eat it as is. Love it! One of my favorite foods of all time. 😉

  3. Mmmm you just spurred on a huge avocado craving, Min…love the stuff! I think I am making up for lost time because up until recently, I was convinced I didn’t like ’em! Although the ways are endless, some of my favorite combos include guac (duh), as a sandwich spread, mayo alternative in chicken salad, with toast & runny eggs and last but defintely not least: salmon avocado makis…mmm time to get my hands on a ripe avocado!

  4. Thanks so much for this post Min, I found it really interesting – great to hear about one of my fave foods :).

  5. Thanks for all the recipes! I love avocados, but I get boring with them, so this is super helpful! Thanks, Min!

  6. Min! I love avocados too.. but perhaps one of the reasons why people don’t eat avocados as much as they should is because it’s fattening? (not sure why I have that idea that avocados make you fat!)

    • Min says:

      I’m glad you brought that up bc that’s exactly the reason why avocados get a bad rap. It’s true that avocado has a high fat content – almost 90% of calories come from fat. However, the phytosterols that I mentioned about make up majority of that fat. Avocados are a great source of the “healthy” fats (monounsaturated fatty acid) which help lower the risk for heart diseases. Not only that, we need fat in our diet as it aids in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. I also hear they make our hair, nails, and skin healthier. I’m down with that 😉

  7. I really love that website, thanks for sharing it! I think my dad would find it fascinating too. He’s always trying to stay on top of the latest top 10 foods we should be eating 🙂

    Your avocado recipes look amazing!! It’s interesting that avocados actually reduce cholesterol. I’m going to make your avocado sauce this weekend, maybe with some grilled fish. I love the idea of putting Sriracha in guac. I normally put jalapeno, but Sriracha would be so much easier than mincing up those jalapenos!

    • Min says:

      Isn’t the website amazing! I absolutely love that table! I always try to get my parents to eat healthier, but for some reason they don’t seem to listen to whatever I have to say. However, they sure are easily persuaded by their friends who may or may not have any knowledge or background in nutrition. I have to remind them that I’m actually going to school to learn this stuff..oh wells. sigh.

      Mmm…grilled fish. And yes, very true. It doesn’t get much easier than couple of squirts from a bottle ;).

  8. I LOVE avocados. Didn’t know they were a super food. Have you ever tried avocado pudding? Sounds so weird, but it’s so good!

  9. Ahh you’ve just reminded me of how many recipes of yours I’ve wanted to make and haven’t yet. Darin & I make your quinoa casserole alot, it’s sooo good. Guacamole is definitely my weakness too, don’t leave me alone with a bowl.

  10. I love avocados in anyform 🙂 although I have been successful incorporating into chocolate yet. Personally, I am not a big of labeling certain food as superfood because due to marketing and media – public is getting really confused and spending a lot of money for exotic berries and seeds and forgetting about good old banana, apples, and oat while they are great nutritional powerhouse – your posts are always very informative Min 🙂

    • Min says:

      I def know what you mean about labeling. There certainly is a lot of hype out there around superfoods, which can be good and bad at the same time. It is important, I think, though to raise awareness of these specific foods in which so much research is being done. There are so much fascinating research out there on functional foods. I think it’s a pretty exciting field to be in as a dietitian…I’m considering it ;).

  11. I love when you share what you are learning!! I love avocado. My favorite way to have them is on eggs with spicy mustard!

  12. What a delicious post!
    I love love love avocado! Thanks for sharing these amazing recipes too!

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